Are you feeling safer?posted by Ron Beasley at 2/09/2005 11:19:00 AM
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[T]here are two words the Bush administration doesn't want you to think about: North Korea.The famous "Axis of Evil" speech may have done more to contribute to nuclear proliferation than anything else.
That's because the most dangerous failure of U.S. policy these days is in North Korea. President Bush has been startlingly passive as North Korea has begun churning out nuclear weapons like hot cakes.
North Korea is particularly awkward for Mr. Bush to discuss publicly because, as best we know, it didn't make a single nuclear weapon during Bill Clinton's eight years in office (although it did begin a separate, and secret, track to produce uranium weapons; it hasn't produced any yet but may eventually). In contrast, the administration now acknowledges that North Korea extracted enough plutonium in the last two years for about half a dozen nuclear weapons.So, do you feel safer?
But U.S. policy on North Korea for the last four years has only strengthened Mr. Kim and allowed him to expand his nuclear arsenal severalfold.The "rapture" may be closer than we think.
The risk is that Mr. Bush will respond to the failure of his first term's policy by adopting an even harder line in the coming months, seeking Security Council sanctions (he won't get them) and ultimately imposing some kind of naval quarantine. That would only strengthen Mr. Kim's grip on power, as well as risk a war on the Korean peninsula. A Pentagon study in the 1990's predicted that such a war could kill one million people.
In short, our mishandling of North Korea has been appalling - and it may soon get worse.